Onward and Upward
Since graduating from the School of Architecture and Design, Mingyang Akihiro Yu (B.Arch. ’19) continued his education at Columbia University, where he received a master’s in advanced architectural design. Soon after, he landed a job with HYP-Arch in Shanghai, China, leading the company’s international project department. He sat down with The Box to talk about his most memorable experiences at New York Tech and what he is doing now.
What were the highlights of your architecture studies at New York Tech?
My thesis presentation, of course. My thesis year with Assistant Professor Dong-Sei Kim was the best in my academic career because I never had a chance to explore my own interest with so much time and support from a professor. He also gave the students the courage to explore architecture with unconventional tools and representational styles.
You were also a research assistant at New York Tech. Can you talk about that experience?
I’m glad I got involved in projects that I would never have had the chance to participate in regular architectural offices. The projects were full of exciting, creative, and challenging work. Helping my professors in the Architectural League of New York Folly/Function 2019 competition and working on a project in Africa was a unique experience for sure.
Can you talk about your career path?
I had internships with different architectural offices in various countries before graduating from grad school at Columbia University. I started my professional career as an industrial and UX designer right after grad school in 2020.
These work experiences in different design fields helped me as an architectural designer. I realized the solution doesn’t always have to be in the scale of a building, and architectural design doesn’t have to be limited to physical space. For example, I found that a piece of furniture or a device a person wears can potentially have a similar impact as the size of a building. Now I’m working for HYP-Arch in Shanghai, leading the international project department. My work includes research and presenting proposals for the firm’s future expansion, seeking potential partnerships, and, most importantly, concept development for architectural projects.
What do you find exciting about being an architectural designer?
To me, architectural design is highly personal. A lot of design decisions are based on our own life experiences or how we see the world. A piece of architecture usually reflects society, politics, and local culture. An architectural designer has the power to tell a story or spread a message from the structure they design.
What is the best advice you received?
More problems mean more opportunities.